7 Chocolate Recipes for Every Occasion

Here at TABLE, we’re constantly curious as to how we can learn more, grow in our skills, and share stories in ways we haven’t tried before. This is especially true in winter, when dark and cold days keep us. This season, a 20-pound chocolate bar from Mon Aimee Chocolat, a gourmet chocolate store located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, presented itself. Selina Progar, TABLE contributor and pastry chef at Eleven, took on the challenge with gusto. “It was so big I had to bring it outside and bang it on the ground, wrapped up, to break it up,” Selina said, laughing.

We gave Selina the freedom to be as expressive and experimental as she desired with this mountain of chocolate. “It was intimidating! But incredibly worth it,” Selina shared. “It was a thicker chocolate than I’ve used in the past, with a higher viscosity.” When Selena melted the chocolate, it had a beautiful light ganache texture. Easy to work with, it is a great fit for those who don’t often work with chocolate tempering. It’s a versatile chocolate that can be used both in a professional kitchen and by the home baker.

Breaking Down the Bar

If you’re looking to expand your world of chocolate, it helps to know some fundamentals. Baking chocolates can be quite varied, so it’s important for you to learn how each one is different.

Selina finds one of the most important aspects of baking with chocolate to take into consideration is its percentage of cocoa content. Cocoa percentage includes cocoa mass or cocoa liquor (not to be confused with the alcoholic version), cocoa nib, and any added cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is the edible fat extracted from the cocoa bean, which has its own cocoa aroma and flavor.

For example, a plain dark chocolate bar with a cocoa content of 70% means that 70% of the chocolate has been made from ingredients found in the cocoa bean. The remaining 30% will consist of other ingredients like sugar. “Seventy percent is dark in our own home [kitchens], but in the baking kitchen, it’s perfect to work with,” says Selina.

Why Selina Progar likes working with chocolate

“It’s the huge range of percentages, brands, and flavors of chocolate. It allows for so many different kinds of recipes to be made. You can infuse teas. You can make ganaches for bonbons, truffles, candy bars.” Each chocolate has its own flavor note and flavor pairings. You can use different parts of the cocoa bean for cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, and cocoa nibs. “We use each of those in different aspects in the kitchen. For example, cocoa butter is used to make velvet sprays. We can add dyes for fun, bright colors.”

Working with Chocolate at Home

Melt Chocolate with a Double Boiler

A lot of people head to the microwave, but this can burn the chocolate. A double boiler gives a lot more control. It’s just a pot filled with three inches of water, and a bowl (preferably heatproof glass) that fits on top. Turn on the stove to medium heat and let the steam of the boiling water gently melt the chocolate while you stir constantly.

Use the Right Tools

Unless you’re trying to temper chocolate to make elaborately decorated desserts, you don’t need specialty tools beyond a nice rubber spatula with no garlic or other food smells.

Skip the Chips

When a recipe calls for melted chocolate, it’s best to use the real deal instead of chocolate chips, which are not designed to melt well, and have a less intense flavor than a full-on chocolate bar. Chopping your own chocolate chunks might take a little extra time, but it’s well worth it.

Have Fun!

What is Selina’s biggest advice for working with chocolate? “Don’t be scared to move beyond chocolate chip cookies. You can play around with it and incorporate it into things you might not know it belongs in. Look at flavor charts of different chocolates and see what you can pair it with. Look at Mexican mole sauces. You can use it for anything and everything.”

Visit Mon Aimee Chocolat in Pittsburgh’s Strip District

With chocolate sourced from over 60 countries, Mon Aimee curates one of the largest collections of premium fine chocolate in the United States. They showcase Pittsburgh’s local handcrafted chocolatiers, as well as award-winning bean-to-bar chocolatiers.

7 Chocolate Recipes to Get You Started

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: Decadent twist on a classic recipe, stealing the spotlight at every table.

Everyone at your table will be reaching for another slice! An elegant spin on a classic pecan pie, a sprinkle of bourbon adds rich flavor that will be the talk of the table.

Buckeyes

11 buckeyes sit spread apart on a wooden table

Nostalgia runs deep with this easy, no-bake Buckeyes recipe. But so does deliciousness. Just a handful of ingredients form homemade peanut butter balls dipped in luxurious chocolate and made with just a handful of ingredients. This crowd-pleaser is sure to please your crowd.

Chocolate Cello

A rich blend of Ghirardelli chocolate, cream, and Everclear - the perfect boozy indulgence for sipping or drizzling over desserts.

Add a dose of spirit to your next gathering with a boozy, satisfying dessert-in-a-glass. Pour this Chocolate Cello over cheesecake or ice cream. Add it to your coffee, or sip it straight!

Chocolate Crémeux

Chocolate Cremeux - pudding served in four glasses with chocolate chunks spread across the wooden table alongside three spoons

Falling somewhere between a chocolate ganache and mousse, crémeux is a melt-in-the-mouth pudding-like cream, soft and slightly dense in texture. Use it in tarts, spread it on brioche, or just eat it with a spoon.

Hot Chocolate Tray

Hot Chocolate Tray with four cups of hot chocolate. One cup as a chili, one has a cylindrical chocolate bar, one has a spoon, and one has a marshmallow. hot chocolate recipes

Step up your hot chocolate game and beat the winter blues with a fun activity for the whole family. Whether you prefer flavors of peppermint, caramel, or cayenne, creativity will come alive as you make your own bespoke hot chocolate creations.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache

Peanut butter chocolate cheesecake sliced and served on a wooden surface with forks on the side

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake recipe is a rich and decadent dessert that will have your guests going for more. A cookie crust is filled with a creamy, luscious peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake filling. A layer of whipped chocolate ganache tops off the ultimate peanut butter lover’s dessert.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies served with crumbles

We take famous chocolate chip cookies to the next level with a sprinkle of sea salt and wonderful, gourmet chocolate. They are soft, chewy, and golden brown with slightly crisp edges. Easy-to-make, these cookies will become an instant classic in your kitchen.

Story by Lindsay Anne Herring / Recipe by Selina Progar / Styling by Anna Calabrese / Photography by Dave Bryce / Chocolate Courtesy of Mon Aimee Chocolat 

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